Updated: Aug 4, 2019
A couple of years back, I was asking for St. Rita's intercession (she has never failed me!) at a statue of her in a church of her patronage. I asked her a simple question: how can I prepare to be a holy wife? When I was done praying, I looked up, and a single pamphlet was sitting there in front of her statue. I took it. I read it. It was called "The Marylike Standards for Modesty in Dress," and, not only was it the answer to my question to St. Rita, but it changed everything for me.
In the first part of this series, I covered what it means to dress like Our Lady and the physical rules that Holy Mother Church gives us. In this second part, I will share with you a few of the amazing benefits I discovered from dressing this way:
My outfits were simplified. Limiting the clothes you can wear means limiting the options you have. Of course, you can still by a lot of dresses and skirts. But, when you can wear the same thing to daily Mass, the grocery store, and at the dinner table, it really simplifies getting dressed in the morning. A whole genre of "grubby clothes" (baggy t-shirts and sweatpants) are now reserved for under the covers (thank goodness!)/
My vanity was kept in check. It is no wonder the poor women in our culture (me being one of them) are obsessed about how they look. Every part of them has to be the right size, the right level of muscle density, the right shape, etc. Once I switched wardrobes, I realized that it's no wonder women are becoming anorexic. You have to be to look good in today's hip-hugging, leggy, belly-showing, clothes! I found such a freedom from self-obsession in my newly found wardrobe. Now, I'm not saying you have a license to be unhealthy or frumpy. It just helped me focus on what I needed to.
I was reminded anew of my dignity, similar to when I began veiling. For me, dressing like this was a practical lesson in love: your adornments aren't in fancy gown, and your worth is not in what you look when you walk out the door. Your jewels are in virtues, in suffering, and in the graces Our Lord has given you. Covering your body in this way reminds me of that every morning.
I was more present. Gone were the days of constantly pulling up my shirt, holding onto it when I bent over, and pulling short hems down. I can move and sit and run and crouch without worrying about being too revealing. This is vital to a mother of little ones!
It made me dress up more. I laugh when I think back to starting this. My biggest fear was of looking plain and frumpy. But, that is exactly how I looked when I made a Walmart run, went for a walk around the pasture, visited my parents' farm, and worked in my garden, wearing a baggy t-shirt or sweatshirt and sweatpants. That practically became my uniform after I had my first child and began staying at home. This dress code forced me to get dressed up for the day each morning. Even if it was a casual outfit, it looked far better than my grubby clothes!
I helped to save my soul, and possibly others' too! I was absolutely leading others into sin with how I dressed before. We know from the dream that St. Frances had that this has lead people to Hell. Not only that, but I shutter to think of the men that fell to the temptation of impurity after seeing me out and about. Yes, I have lots of reparations to do, but now I can sleep with a clear conscience as far as dress goes!
In short, I found the joy that can only come from living out the Church's precepts to the fullest. It's a powerful reminder that they are there for our good, and not just to be stingy.
Now, adopting these fashions in our current times certainly seems daunting. My first thought was, where do I even find clothes like that? Add pregnancy, postpartum tummies, and a tight budget to the list, and my work was cut out for me. In Part III, I'll tell you my solution.